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WLC first-time attendees offer impressions

'Passion,' 'privilege,' 'connections' among reasons for participating

May 20, 2013

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Dr. Fritz

Dr. Hagerty

Dr. Poiset

Dr. Small

Dr. Utke
Washington—This was not your father's Washington Leadership Conference.

Not with the WLC 2013 iPhone and Android app offered for the May 13-15 conference in the nation's capital, an app including agenda, talking points, a map of Capitol Hill, an ability to share pictures and news updates with fellow attendees and download instructions.

Not with more than 20 new dentists participating in this year's WLC.

And not with more than 80 first-timers among more than 500 attendees. Why did they come and what do they expect to gain?

Dr. Brenda Fritz, Canton, Ga., general practitioner: Why? Because I feel passion for our profession, for the integrity of our profession, and I have a great interest in a lot of the issues we're dealing with. It's a wonderful opportunity to become involved to do what I can as an individual. There's such an amazing sense of history in the city. You can't be here without feeling it on a deep level. I visited memorials to people who fought for our country. I'm hoping to learn more about the process and how I can affect this profession I dearly love.

Dr. Patrick Hagerty, Albany, Ore., general practitioner, hospital practice: Why? So my education diploma says I'm a dentist but unless the government says I'm a dentist, by licensing me to practice, I don't do a thing. So if we're not involved with our government, we're not helping to manage our future. Health care reform is fraught with danger. I'm the chair of our hospital board of directors and we've had to deal with health care reform on the medical side and watched the debacle unfold, and dentistry is not far behind. I hope to gain a better understanding of health care reform and how it affects dentistry and a better understanding of what legislators believe health care reform is because I believe there is a real disconnect.

Dr. Mitchell Poiset, San Diego, Calif., pediatric dentist: Why? It's a privilege being a dentist and the profession has given me a great deal. I'm looking to contribute and to give back. I hope to make connections with people at the national level and find ways to contribute at the local and national levels.

Dr. Chanelle Small, New York City, endodontist: I came to the Washington Leadership Conference because I want to play an active role in the legislation that affects me in private practice. I want to gain an understanding of the issues that affect dentists on a national level. Moving forward, I will certainly support the ADA political action committee and its initiatives.

Dr. Calvin Utke, Colorado Springs, Colo., general practitioner: It's a matter of insuring a common face that our federal legislators can turn to and also be an advocate for the membership, especially with issues affecting our practices. I want to understand the workings and protocols at the federal capital and strengthen my knowledge base for the next year ahead as president of the Colorado Dental Association (one-year term starting July 1). This includes a sunset review, the Colorado Dental Association moving to a new location and collaboration with stakeholders regarding workforce issues.